Restore Us

Monday, December 29, 2014, 11:22 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “My Cry for Mercy.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 80 (ESV).

Our Shepherd

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, a Psalm.

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
and come to save us!

Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
~ vv. 1-3​

According to the New Testament (post Christ’s death and resurrection), Israel, as in God’s people, is no longer the Jewish nation of the Old Testament, but it is both Jew and Gentile who have put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives (See: Romans 9:6b-8; Gal. 3:10, 16, 26-29; Gal. 4:22-31; Eph. 2:14-18). So, spiritual Israel today is the church, the body of Christ. And, Jesus Christ, God the Son, is our shepherd.

It appears here that the people of God had come under some type of divine discipline, and so this is a cry for mercy. The psalmist is asking for the shepherd of Israel to come save them. This is not a call of the unsaved to be regenerated, though, but of believers in Christ asking God to revive them, to renew and restore them, either because they had fallen into sin and they had wandered away from their pure devotion to their Lord, and/or because they had become discouraged and disheartened and/or they were lonely and needy because of all the turmoil, distress, persecution and hardships that had come their way.

Our Prayers

O Lord God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
~ vv. 4-7​

Evidently, in this case, God was angry with the prayers of his people, and so he was not responding to their prayers. So, I wondered, does God still get angry, or is he sometimes displeased with his people’s prayers? - And, if so, under what circumstances?

We read in the Gospels that we should not pray hypocritically just to make an impression on others. We should also not pray with vain repetitions that don’t mean anything or pray long drawn-out prayers using spiritual-sounding words just so we appear righteous to others. As well, we should not hold on to unforgiveness in our hearts when we come to God in prayer, but we should forgive and then pray. We ought not to pray with a prideful attitude, either, looking down on others and thinking we are so high and mighty. All have sinned.

Husbands are commanded to honor their wives and to live with them in an understanding way so that their prayers may not be hindered (1 Pet. 3:7). God’s ears are open to the prayer of the righteous, but his face is against those who do evil (1 Pet. 3:12). In context, this is written to the church, so the “righteous” here is not a reference to all who have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, but this is speaking of those who live righteously, as this is contrasted with those who DO evil. If we want God to listen to our prayers, we need to walk daily in his righteousness and holiness. Going along with this idea, in 1 Pet. 4:7 we read that we should be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of our prayers, so obviously our walk of faith and obedience to our Lord has an effect on our prayers.

We also read that when we ask God for something in prayer, that we need to ask in faith and not doubt (Jas. 1:6). And, when we ask God for something in prayer, we should not expect to receive anything from the Lord if we ask with the wrong motives, that we may spend whatever we receive from God on our own worldly passions and desires (Jas. 4:3). If we want to receive from God when we ask him for something in prayer, we need to keep his commandments and do what pleases him (1 Jn. 3:22). We also need to ask according to his will (1 Jn. 5:14). So, it appears that, even today, our prayers can be hindered if we are not walking by faith, living holy lives pleasing to God – all in his power at work within us. So, if we want God to answer our prayers, we need to repent of any known sin and pray for mercy, i.e. for God to restore us to himself, which he will do if we are sincere.

And, yet, God does not promise that we will be delivered out of all our troubles. In fact, he promises that in this life we will have sorrow, pain, hardship, persecutions, etc. Jesus said we would be hated, persecuted, falsely accused, arrested and even killed for our testimonies for him and for his gospel.

But, what he does promise us is that he will never leave us or forsake us, and that he will give us all we need to endure, to be strong in our faith, to be courageous, to persevere and to not lose hope. Even in the midst of sadness, he will fill us with songs of praise to him and with joy everlasting. He will teach us his ways, will grow and mature us, purify our hearts, and he will conform us to the image of Christ. He will also fill us with his peace and assurance even when “all hell” is breaking loose all around us. He will also intervene on our behalf in miraculous ways. Sometimes miracles happen because of difficulties, as well as in spite of them. If we are walking in his ways, he will also use us to be ministers of his grace in the lives of others. And, he will work all things out for good for those of us who love God and who have been called according to his purpose. Amen!

Our Relationship

Turn again, O God of hosts!
Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
the stock that your right hand planted,
and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down;
may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
~ vv. 14-19​

When we came to faith in Jesus Christ, via God’s grace to us, we died with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, we were transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we were given new lives in Christ to be lived in his righteousness and holiness. In fact, Jesus died for our sins so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. He did not die just so we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died so we would die to sin and live in his righteousness.

This is God’s grace to us: It is not a free license to continue living in willful sin free from guilt and punishment. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for his return. Jesus Christ gave himself up for us “to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” He will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives pleasing to Him. [See: Luke 9:23-25; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1-5.]

If this is not what happened to you when you “believed” in Jesus Christ, then perhaps you did not truly believe in Jesus, and you need to right now submit to his cross, die with Christ to sin and self, and allow the Holy Spirit of God to transform you in heart and mind, and to make you into a new creation in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24).

Or, perhaps you did truly come to faith in Jesus Christ but you have since wandered away from your pure devotion to your Lord, and you have allowed yourself to return to living in sin and to walking according to the flesh instead of according to the Spirit. God has been convicting your heart, but you have been resisting him, and/or you have been living in denial and you have been making excuses for what you know is wrong. And, perhaps, you are facing some type of divine discipline and you want God to deliver you, but you have not yet been willing to give your all to Jesus. Jesus is calling you to repent of your sin and to return to your first love (See Rev. 2-3), because he longs to revive you, renew you and restore you to himself. All you need to do is surrender your life to him. He will restore you.

My Cry For Mercy / An Original Work / October 31, 2013

Based off Psalm 86

Hear my prayer, Lord, I am needy.
Guard my life, for I’m devoted to You.
Save me! I’m Your servant.
You are my God. I trust in You.

O, Lord, have mercy on me,
For I call to You.
Bring joy to me, for to You
I will lift up my soul.

You are giving and forgiving.
You abound in love to all who
Call upon You. Hear my prayer, Lord.
Listen to my cry for mercy.

In days of trouble I call to You,
Knowing that You will
Do marvelous things,
Because You are my God.

Teach me Your way; I’ll walk in it.
In Your truth, Lord, You will guide me.
A pure heart, Lord, You will give me,
So that I may glorify You.

Turn to me, Lord, and grant
Strength to Your servant.
O, Lord, You are my help,
For You love and You comfort me.

Teach me Your way; I’ll walk in it.
In Your truth, Lord, You will guide me.
A pure heart, Lord, You will give me,
So that I may glorify You.